Airline Startup Breeze Airways Takes Flight

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It’s the perfect name for an airline with a tailwind.

Breeze Airways, the fifth airline founded by David Neeleman, announced it will launch its inaugural flight services at the end of the month. On top of focusing on routes ignored by major carriers, Neeleman hopes to differentiate Breeze with service that’s simply “nicer.”

Make Flying Nice Again

Neeleman has a resumé that would make Howard Hughes blush — he founded JetBlue, Morris Air, Canada’s WestJet, and Brazil’s Azul Airlines.

This time, the man who brought live TV to JetBlue cabins has a simple plan to give air travel a lift: “We just want to be nice,” he told Travel + Leisure. “There’s too much nastiness out there… but it costs us nothing to be nice.” On top of minding their manners, Breeze will:

  • Fly 39 non-stop routes between 16 mid-sized, oft-underserved cities, primarily in the U.S. southeast (think New Orleans, Charleston, and Norfolk).
  • Utilize a fleet of mostly smaller model Embraer E190 and E195 jets that do away with those pesky middle seats.
  • And Breeze will offer extra perks, like no change or cancellation fees, free family seating assignments, and discounted baggage fees.

One-way tickets start at $39, with fare classes divided into two aptly-named tiers: “Nice” and “Nicer.”

Vanilla Sky No Longer: Breeze is among the eye-popping ninety new airline startups in 2021 hoping to siphon airspace from stumbling major airlines. Cheapened aircraft prices and a fresh supply of job-seeking pilots and flight attendants should only help their cause.

But flush with government aid, big-name airlines are not about to hand over market share. In the past, “the big airlines would push back from the table and leave the scraps for all the startups,” Scott Kirby, chief executive of United, said at a Bloomberg Live event earlier this week. “I can tell you at United Airlines, we’re going to do the opposite.”

Flight Plan: U.S. air travel in 2021 is expected to hit just 52% of its 2019 capacity— up from a lowly 14% last year. Will newer, “nicer” specialty flying options make the travel resurgence a breeze?